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Thread: What is Scotch Whisky like? Any tips to drinking it? Expectations?

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    Default What is Scotch Whisky like? Any tips to drinking it? Expectations?

    I'd like to see what the hubub on Scotch is all about and try a glass/miniature bottle but I want to do it right and go into it with proper expectations.

    Honestly, I'm not much of an alcohol consumer. I can appreciate a good beer but that's about the limit of my taste bud experiences.

    -Can someone tell me what to expect when trying Scotch?
    -Are there any specific ways to drink it, like how there is for wine? Do you take small sips? Let it sit in the mouth before swallowing? Should you "clean" your mouth before drinking it?
    -Some people speak of adding water, if I were to mix it myself, how much do you add?
    -I read that Glen Livet is a good "starter", any truth to that?
    -On the Glen Livet site in the Tasting Notes it has the following terms I'm not familiar with: 1) Nose, 2) Rubbed on the Hand, 3) Palate, 4) Finish.
    Can someone clarify them?

    Any other comments or suggestions would be great

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    I use to mix it with Ice tea... It was kickass..
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    pour it on the rocks, or just straight with no rocks. However, when Im drinking stuff like glenfiddich, I like having it with sprite.

    Originally posted by SKR
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    Default scotch

    Scotch - the water of life!

    Ok, couple things I thought of that you should know...

    Having just scotch is how they do it when they are doing the "fancy" taste tests. While you will note that when you add ice, it tends to bring out more taste, as I belive it does something like help release some of the oils.

    There is also a difference between Scotch Whiskey and Scotch whisky they spell it without the E when it is from Scotland or Canada (usually) and spell it with the E when it is from anywhere else.

    Also, if you want to try something a little different, try a bunch of smaller bottles and include something like Morrison Bowmore collection, Glen Garioch, Morrison Bowmore Islay, and my favoriet Auchentoshan. Auchentoshan, pronounced ock-une-tosh-une (Ithink) is my favoriet as it involves peat in the distilling process that is only from that local region.

    Anyways, hope you found this random info interesting, Good luck in your scotch endeavors....

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    Don't mix scotch with other shit, drink it straight, on the rocks or neat. Scotch is for sipping, 3 ice cubes is about good for me for 1oz 4 for a double. Drink it slowly and enjoy. The smell and aftertaste is intoxicating. Glenfiddich is my drink of choice, has a nice applely taste to it.
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    OK - long post warning;

    There is much to be said for Single Malt Whisky. I absolutely love Whisky and look upon it as a bit of a hobby -I have a modest collection of interesting malts and some very rare vintages- and not just a favourite drink. I have little use for blended Scotches though, just to give you my bias up front. For some reason I love good Single Malts and think blendeds are poo. There you have it.

    There is another thread ongoing at the moment that also has some Whisky info on it:

    http://forums.beyond.ca/showthread.p...hreadid=123142

    To answer your questions though:

    1) What to expect. That really does depend on you palate. If you are unaccustomed to hard liquors, prepare to be overwhelmed. If you persist though, The magic will be revealed to you. It took me some years to really appreciate Single Malts. They are truly, as Loweg pointed out, the waters of life. This is actually very accurate, as the very term Whisky comes from a Gaelic phrase (there are numerous transliterations of this...) 'uisge baugh' - meaning water of life.

    Whisky can be smoky, or peaty, or even seem somewhat salty. Whisky is very sensitive to what wine affectionados call 'terrior', or the sense of place in which they were made. If you sit down and close your eyes while drinking a dram of Talisker, for instance, it is extrordinarily easy to feel the cool salty sea air of the Isle of Skye upon you, while Laphroaig is like sitting over a peat-bog fire in an Islay hut on a cold winters night. Sounds a bit pretentious, I know, but it really is in there, and Whisky devotees are miles less pretentious than their wine lover breatheren.

    2) How to drink it. I assume that you are talking about enjoying Scotch for what it is and not just using it as an alcohol transportation device. Hence I won't go in to mixing it with anything. The traditional Scottish way is to put a wee bit of water in it; I do mean a wee bit. Think one or possibly two Thimblefuls, perhaps a Tablespoon's worth. Purists go so far as to suggeast distilled water. I personally think this is overkill. Novices may prefer a chip or single small ice cube in their glass. Either way, a tiny bit of water 'wakes up' the Whisky and does make it tastier, IMHO. As to 'cleaning your mouth' before drinking Scotch, well, whatever was in your mouth before would have to be pretty fierce
    indeed to overwhelm the Scotch. Nevertheless, a sip or two of water beforehand would not go astray. Take a sip into your mouth and swirl it around a bit. Different bits of your tongue taste things differently, take a moment to take it all in. Think about what the flavours remind you of. Take note of what you like and what you don't like.

    3) I personally would not bother with Glenlivet. It is, in my opinion a starter Scotch in price alone. It will get you drunk, but that's not what we are talking about. I would suggest skipping mini-bottles, and waiting until you are willing to plump $40 for a bottle. Then go out and but something like A Glenmorangie 10 year old; The Real Canadian Liquor store has pretty good prices on these. A 12 Year Bowmore isn't a bad pick either in this price range. If you can go to $50 and change, A Port Wood Glenmorangie is actually my favourite Whisky under about $125. The Port wood casking adds a gentle sweetness and hint of ruby colour. Part of the reason that a full bottle is better than a mini, is that it gives you both opportunity and encouragement (not wanting to waste it) to develop a palate for Scotch.

    4) Tasting Notes:
    a) Nose: Nose refers to not just smell, but how it presents to the nose - the high alcohol level presents some different levels of 'sharpness' that aren't exactly smell, but still strike the nose. swirl the Whisky in the glass, and then put your nose right in there and draw in gently. Think about what you experience - what smells are there, how does it hit you? what does it remind you of. Don't worry about what snooty descriptors you may hear wine enthusiasts use; what does it mean to you?

    b) Rubbed on the Hand; refers to the nose as a drop of the Whisky evaporates off the hand. I don't know what the point of this is. Screw it. Ultimately, its about the drink itself, I think.

    c) Palate; pretty much self explainatory; not just taste, but mostly taste. draw in a bit of breath through your nose whilst taking a sip of the Whisky into your mouth. swirl it around. Think about what the tastes happening in your mouth are. What does it remind you of. Close your eyes for a minute (if you are alone or with a friend who won't make fun of you) and concentrate on the flavours. Then swallow.

    d) Finish; So you've smelled, tasted and swallowed some Whisky. Now what's happening? You've got an aftertaste in your mouth of, Surprise! Whisky! It will have its own character, but wait for a bit and think about what you note in the aftertaste. It does vary amongst the Scotches.

    Keep in mind that this does refer to capital 'T' Tasting - where you are going out of your way to sample and compare or learn about Scotches. Nothing wrong with just sipping on a single malt and enjoying it too.

    Just as an added thought though; Wine drinkers often talk of pairing their favourite wines with cheeses or foods. Single Malt Whiskies, I believe, while they may be paired well with some foods like game meats or grilled beef, are probably best paired with tobaccos. Not cigarettes though. which are the tobacco equivalent of drinking mouthwash or rubbing alcohol. Cigars may well be paired with Scotch, but In my personal opinion, certain pipe tobaccos smoked in the right pipe, with the right Scotch, are the ultimate combination of flavour and ambiance. Plus - you can't get much more 'old school' than that.

    If you have bothered to read through all of this, I can now wish you a most pleasant entry into the world of single malts. If you decide you like it. and wish any recommendations, let me know.

    Have fun!
    Originally posted by 01RedDX


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    Tried glenfiddich....


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    Default something to add!

    Wow, Nice post!

    I guess I could add that my dad is actually a sales rep for Morrison Bowmore. So I havebeen known to taste a few of the 21 year olds, and stuff that is in market testing...so my opinion is very, very biased.

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    scotch on the rocks is the only way to drink it. scotch with mix would be like putting water in beer just unheard of

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    Default Re: something to add!

    Originally posted by loweg
    Wow, Nice post!

    I guess I could add that my dad is actually a sales rep for Morrison Bowmore. So I havebeen known to taste a few of the 21 year olds, and stuff that is in market testing...so my opinion is very, very biased.
    I've been known to taste a few 21 year olds myself, too

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    i tried drinking red label once. in the sink lol
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    Kensington Wine Market has a good selection of scotches. The people there are also really helpful. You can talk to them and they'll make suggestions based on your personal preferences. I think Willow Park liquors in the south is much the same. I even think both those places may have scotch tasting courses, which is a good way to begin to wrap your head around the potential that exists in scotch.

    That being said, if you don't like 'booze', you probably won't like scotch. It's not an easy drink and requires a fair bit of patience to really begin to enjoy. I'm a fairly hardened drinker but it's taken me years to get the hang of it. I enjoy a good glass of scotch every few months, but I can't drink more than two or three before it becomes overwhelming and I need to switch to something lighter. But the right scotch really is a treat in moderation.
    Originally posted by syeve


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    Thanks for everyone's replies! Been very helpful

    BlueGoblin:
    Thank you very much, you answered my questions beyond my expectations
    So Glen Livet isn't a good starter?


    I guess what I'd like to start my virgin mouth off with is something that won't scare me away.
    I read that there are some Scotches that are a REAL acquired taste and others are more agreeable to the masses.

    What is a more "agreeable" Scotch?
    Glenmorangie?

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    Scotch and water.
    Scotch on rocks.

    Only way to drink it, woo!
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    I would agree with PostGoblin .. Port finish Glenmorganie, very nice. I also like the Sherrywood Finish and you might find it a little sweeter and mild on the palate.

    My regular poison is Glennfiddich 15yr.

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    Glenlivet wouldn't be my choice for a starter, but taste is a very personal thing. It might well work for you. Don't get me wrong, Glenlivet isn't crap, per se, but I find it very bland and characterless. From the way you posed your question, I am assuming that you are interested in coming to appreciate Single Malts as opposed to just being able to down one without grimacing. Glenlivet is just too close in flavour to a blended for my tastes. I was given a bottle of Glenlivet as a gift a few years ago and ended up cooking with it - pan-seared rib-eye steak finished with a splash of Glenlivet, then flambeed - it kicks ass.

    The reason that I suggested something like a Bowmore 12 or a Glenmorangie 10 year for a starter is that they both have interesting, complex flavours without being really overwhelming like a Talisker or Laphroaig (two of the most extremely, ahem, challenging malts out there). That and they tend to be in the $40/bottle range as opposed to much much higher.

    If I had to use an imperfect car analogy, it would be like this; someone just got their driver's license and are looking for a car; they have an interest in a sports car, but need to be able to drive year round. They can spend, say $5k. You could start them with a 1997 Chevrolet Cavalier (Glenlivet), a 1996 Honda Civic with a few performance tweaks (Glenmorangie 10 year) or you could get them into a rhd 1989 Toyota MR2 (Laphroaig). The Cavalier is not likely to be a sporting or fun ownership experience, but it'll get you there. Eventually. The Civic will be fun and be a great all-rounder. The Mr2 could be a hoot, but the maintenance and effort to learn to drive having not driven before, especially in winter may be off-putting. It's an imperfect analogy, but there you have it.
    Originally posted by 01RedDX


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    Originally posted by S4maniac
    I would agree with PostGoblin .. Port finish Glenmorganie, very nice. I also like the Sherrywood Finish and you might find it a little sweeter and mild on the palate.

    My regular poison is Glennfiddich 15yr.
    The Glenfiddich 15 is very nice. I was amazed at what an amazing jump in quality Glenfiddich takes once you move into the 'vintages'.

    All of the Glenmorangie wood-finishes are nice; the burgandy is interesting too- has some of the reddy blush of the port wood, but less sweet and a bit more wine note to it. All tasty.

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    BlueGoblin:
    Awesome thanks for the recommendation.
    And yes, I'd like to give Single Malts a try, maybe even come to appreciate this "art" of Scotch drinking.

    You've been a lot of help, thanks

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    Default Re: What is Scotch Whisky like? Any tips to drinking it? Expectations?

    Originally posted by REFLUX

    -Some people speak of adding water, if I were to mix it myself, how much do you add?
    thats just called "press", adn thats not what you do to scotch if your in it to enjoy it

    expect a warm stomach though


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    Glad to be of assistance - like I said, I have come to look at Single Malt as a bit of a hobby, so its easy to drone on about it given the chance.... Once you try a few, let us all know how you made out and your recommendations as a novice.

    Good luck!
    Originally posted by 01RedDX


    Eye for an eye should apply to both, like if you raped a cat, you would get raped by a bigger cat. Counselling doesn't work on animal rapists you clown.

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